Ideas for Balance Activities?

Alie said: May 15, 2010
 Violin
Columbus, OH
21 posts

Hi Everyone!
I was inspired by Carolyn McCall’s Group Lessons book, and decided to do a Suzuki 5 Senses Summer Camp. I am particularly interested in balance activities either with or without the violin. It would be fun to do something with the trampoline in our backyard (without the violins!!) and also experiment with a balance board. Does anyone have ideas?

The only two trampoline things I’ve come up with so far are these:
-one child lays on the trampoline while another child stands next to them (gently) bouncing to the beat. My boyfriend and I actually tried this and the person that is laying down can really feel the beat in their whole body!
-two children on the trampoline, one bounces on 1 and 3 and the other on 2 and 4. We tried this one too, it’s tricky but really fun!

For balance, there’s an activity that I read about where you balance a bouncy ball between G and D string. If the violin is correctly balanced the ball will stay in place. Does anyone know what size of ball to use? I think the one I’m using is too big!

Other things for 5 senses so far are:
-playing blindfolded
-playing with noise cancelling headphones, although need to try it first to see if it will work!!
-mirror games with partners, follow the leader etc.
-decorating violin cookies;-)
-doing a “pin the tail on the donkey”-like game except it will be oriented towards finding finger placement or bowhold while blindfolded.
-have students stand facing four corners and use their ears to stay together.
-the tootsie roll arm swing thing suggested by Susan Kempter in How Muscles Learn.
If you have any other ideas, please let me know!! Thanks!! :)

If any

Deanna said: May 15, 2010
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
90 posts

A couple months ago I did a group lesson that was all about focus and I did some balancing things. Nothing too fancy. First I had the kids run on the spot (for the safety of the violins). We went really fast first, then in slow motion, then back to fast. Then I had them stand on one foot and find something to look at. Then we pointed the foot that was in the air out in front and then behind—keeping our eyes in one spot. Then more running. Then the other leg. Then we did the tree pose from yoga.
My purpose was to develop focus but you could use the same kind of activities for balance.

Another one sort of related to balance and bow control that kids love…. balance a cheerio on the tip of their bows and have them do the up like a rocket bowing song. I’ve also had the kids play tonalization—from the old book 1 that was all on the E string… E A G# F# E A E—and Allegro.

Good luck it sounds fun!

Mark said: May 16, 2010
 
Suzuki Association Member
20 posts

I’m a cellist, but I have my students sit and practise on a balance ball. I find that it promotes relaxation of the upper truck that supports the left and right hands. In addition, I work with my slightly older students to develop core strength that contributes to the stability of the upper trunk.

You can’t slouch when you’re sitting on the ball and it makes for a fun way to review posture. And what’s more it leads to a more advanced way to talk about posture by finding the connection from the top of your head through the sitting bones into the floor to ensure the proper balance of the body while seated. Violinists/violists have to sit as well and I’m sure it would be worth experimenting for upper string players.

Diane said: May 16, 2010
Diane AllenViolin
245 posts

I regulary use these:

Balance Board—18″ square plywood covered with a rubber floor mat or a carpet. Center a 4×4 underneath that runs the entire length. Students stand on the balance board without their instrument first and then with the violin. My only rule is students start off with 1 foot pushing one side down, put your full weight on that foot, pick up the other foot and place it on the other side of the board and then balance. The dismount is the same in reverse. Instantly corrects posture!

Exercise Balls—I have 2 different sizes. Sitting and playing without bouncing instantly corrects posture. Feet are still in playing position and then you sit on the ball. I also use bouncing to teach tempo. Students can play along with themselves as they bounce—or—1 person can bounce the tempo and others have to play along.

Your balance party sounds fun!

Diane
http://www.myviolinvideos.com
Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Alie said: Jun 1, 2010
 Violin
Columbus, OH
21 posts

Thank you so much to everyone who replied to my post! Your ideas are excellent. I am collaborating with the program’s Kodaly teacher and look forward to a fun and creative class. I will post our weekly curricula (in which I plan to make use of the wonderful ideas you have given me!) as we go through the camp. I welcome any further feedback or ideas along the way!

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 1, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I use a dynadisc ( http://www.exertools.com/mobility—stability—balance-dynadisc.html ) for students to stand on—partially deflated—if they can stand on it “without touching the ground” (no instrument at first), then it’s nearly impossible for them to NOT have their weight centered equally over both legs.

Alie said: Jun 2, 2010
 Violin
Columbus, OH
21 posts

Great site Raine Jen! I am going to order one. Which size do you use?

Thanks!!!

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 5, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I have the normal (medium) sized one. It seems to be an OK radius for the width of most kid’s playing stances (and is even OK for a lot of adults).

Robyn said: Jun 9, 2010
Robyn BauerViolin
18 posts

For very young kids, I’ve heard the best balance activity they can do is spin in circles! Really fast! The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, regulates balance and spinning somehow helps to stabilize it.

said: Jun 21, 2010
 145 posts

Dont you have accidents occurring when using balance balls ? do you hold the ball still while the pupil sits down ? I’d be really worried of them damaging their instruments or themselves. :shock:

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 21, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I “spot” for my students who are trying it out for the first time by either standing in front of them and having them use my hands to ‘find’ their balance and then taking my hands away for a second, then two, gradually increasing the time they can keep their center of balance without touching something. And/or I stand behind them and place my hands on their hips to help with balance if necessary.

They are usually pretty quick to pick up how to balance by themselves, at which time they don’t want me to spot. But then when I add the bow alone, it becomes difficult again and I spot; and again when the viola/violin is added, I spot at first.

I haven’t used the balance balls though, just the dynadisc. However I would think the spotting principle would be the same, and they would eventually get it by themselves—no more (and maybe less) dangerous than learning to walk, or learning to ride a bike, or learning to skate, etc.

Teresa said: Jun 7, 2011
Teresa Skinner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
69 posts

Aloha RainJen!
BRILLIANT IDEA! I have a few students who insist on slumping back in their chairs during our ensemble practice, and seems the same ones tend to lean on one leg while playing disrupting their balance. I’m going to order a set of these exertools ‘discs’ for the studio. Have you used the boards that are available to set on top of the discs? If so, what was the result?

…if you listen to the music, it tells you what to do…

Cynthia Faisst said: Jun 9, 2011
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
127 posts

I’m looking for a wedged cushion small enough to put on the upper side of their violin so I can lay a small plastic leveler for picture frames. The little bubble in the tube gives them immediate feed back about the angle of the violin.

The small plastic levelers will vibrate on the surface of the violin so I’m looking for a soft light cushion that can be shaped in a wedge on the top of the violin and slide into the finger board.

Maybe I will cut some craft foam or soft plastic styrofoam if I can find it.

I’m setting a craft foam cylinder (which doesn’t scratch the violin) on the top of their violin which only rolls along their fingerboard . If it falls they know they are drooping to much if it rolls into their chin rest I know they are lifting their left hand too high.

They can have a contest to see who can play the most note to Twinkle before it rolls away on them. This is a challenging game and will keep them trying many attempts.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Teresa said: Jun 12, 2011
Teresa Skinner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
69 posts

Another super idea! A craft foam cylinder!

…if you listen to the music, it tells you what to do…

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 13, 2011
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

@suzukimaui—I haven’t used the boards, though I have considered it. Just haven’t got around to it yet.

@mscynthia—Maybe try those white makeup wedge sponges? The kind that don’t have aloe or vitamin E infused into them.

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